“All that I want is already gone
Hate and frustration have soaked to my bones
Hopeless and dismal, my black future looms
I tried, tried, tried, but I was already doomed”
(Old One, “Doomed” song).
Like many of you, I had the misfortune to be set for suffering by being born to a narcissistic parent. It’s like a sentence. A doom. It’s a trap you can’t escape. No matter what I had done, I would not have found a different fate. In this setup, no one can be happy. This is misery programmed and executed to the same and predictable painful result. It has happened before, under all geographic locations, to all races and regardless other details like wealth or education…and of course it will repeat in new hundreds of places across the globe.
I don’t remember it (was too young), but was told I got an infection in my first week of life. I had to stay in the hospital. I was put on antibiotics and had blood transferred. Being a father myself, I can’t fathom it. All ended up fine apparently, but that must have been a major trauma itself (from an infant perspective). Probably it was the first time I felt abandoned and helpless. It could not have started worse, could it?
One of the most debilitating memories is a day (maybe the first one) in a day care. I recall crying desperately in the corner and the blurred faces of others. I desperately wanted out, but there was no one to help. I must have been very young (age of 2 or so), yet I remember to this day. My mother told me I didn’t like the place so much that years later I couldn’t even pass by. We had to detour, so I didn’t see the building. I don’t know what exactly happened there, but it’s obvious to me it must have been traumatic. I know I was also often taken care by other people from family and other closer and further friends. I am sure that was not good for me and could have impacted me too. One reason is that other people are not the mother and second, there are people who could have hurt me as some of them may didn’t care or even dislike having to take care of me.
I remember insomnia and not being able to sleep. I remember walking with my father in the park on windy November nights. Probably the reason back then was thought to be “not being tired enough or having not enough oxygen”, but can this be really the case for a 5-year-old kid? I now have the same insomnia problems and I struggle not to believe there was some deeper underlying cause to it. When I am thinking about it, I can also recall the imaginary creature I used to call “Pomayatka” (my invented name, but shockingly resembles: Kikimora. That was just a shadow on the curtains that would haunt me at night. Did I really see it? Was it real? Or was it some materialization of an underlying issue? I remember and was also told, parents had to hold my hand so I sleep. Anytime they walked away I would wake up and cry. Was it normal? What kind of indication was that? They mentioned in with a humorous tone, but I bet it was not funny at all. The little kid wanted to feel a parent and was frightened when she was gone. I can’t say much about physical abuse, except in one case. That I also vividly remember. It was the same period of kindergarten. That was that bad day I was naughty at the kindergarten (they told the parents) and all things went wrong for me. Later my father took me on the bicycle’s back seat and I lost his cap whilst riding. I must have dropped it. When we went home, my father asked me to take my clothes off. Then he got a belt and started beating me. I know it was horrible. Utter brutality. An epitome of cruelty in the eyes of a kid. No different than killing a puppy or slaying a cattle. I shall never forget it. I can’t be sure who inspired it. Was it him or her? Hard to tell now, but it remained with me to date.
Another scene. I am watching TV. It was Garfield (weird I can remember so clearly now?). My mother talks on the phone. “Yes, I love you too". “No, he is not hearing it”. I didn’t know how to process it. I knew instinctually it was wrong and I knew well what it meant. I might have been five or so. I also felt as unimportant and underestimated as if I was too dumb to even know what she was plotting. The picture of the mother cracked. Should the mother lie? If she is good, why does she?
Another memory is the camp the parents took me to. The scene is we are “looking for the mum”. It’s dark, it’s late maybe 10 pm. Finally, we found her in a hut with some guy…. What should we say about my father?
My father has disappointed me so many times. I realized it years after. He knew more than he seemed. He gradually let the mother cross all the lines. He made her a child while he often was “parenting” me. She was not evil, she was “naughty”. Like Mr. Vaknin said in one of his lectures: “Narcissist has zero power, but can manage to convince the partner that he has 100% power and the partner has zero”. This exactly happened to them. Nothing could be done to be enough it seems. There were maybe two cases when he said he would divorce, but it didn’t last long. My uncle said the other day (and I think he was very right), that it all reminds some form of masochism. Gradually he was becoming more and more like her. She was manipulating and he was repressing the reality as it served him two purposes. One, was reducing the harm he got from her. Two, was decreasing the guild for harm done to me. In recent years when we would talk it was so tiresome and fruitless. Whenever it seemed he finally understood something, then a week later he pretended it didn’t happen and presented an old view. I finally realized that it’s impossible to get on the same page. Dr Ross Rosenberg called it “wrestling with a pig in mud”. He was not a narcissist himself, but his mind was getting overtaken with time. The last time we talked, if I had not known it was him, I’d have thought it was her.
One memory that comes back is when I was doing my homework with my mother. Whenever I made a mistake, she had to correct it by scraping paper with a razor blade (yes, the old 80’ties). All she cared about was if it was correct and intact in the workbook. After a few mistakes (it was late and I was tired) she hit me in the head and said “you moron”. I was tired and so nervous that I was making mistakes more and then I was hit again… When it comes to grades I always knew I had to tell only about good ones. A was just fine and I was merely thanked or congratulated. It was the default. My duty. I did the right thing. Worth no mention. When it was a B I would get some unpleasant look or comment. If C or D, that was a time for punishment. Not physically, though. It was something hard to describe now, sort of undefined, not rooted in the physical world, but probably I’d have preferred it to be beaten instead. It was probably a lack of love, attention. It felt bad for sure. It meant to. What I now remember is that, whenever my grade sucked, I had to come up with a story. The story had to have “an alibi” so that my “failure” was made look less bad as someone else (an excellent pupil worked best) also got a bad one. That would be of some help. Would justify otherwise it was totally unacceptable. Failing alone was not an option. When I failed, I did evil. As an evil person, I had to be punished. I was not a child, nor a person. I was an object with a task. You failed, so you don’t get a reward. You get nothing for free. We didn’t either (says the mother). Now it so clearly seems abnormal and sick. Most of the parents do the opposite. They tend to say “I didn’t have any toys to play with, so I will do anything I can so you do”. What can you say of the “bond” when the parent wants no better for a child. In what hands are you?
. the house I remember
When I was trying to resurrect memories of our first apartment, I was surprised to only invoke cold and unpleasant ones. That period (before I was 7 years old) should be full of happiness and joy. I felt strange sensations and started feeling smells of walls, seeing little details like how the room looked like, but it was like descending to some terrible place.
I remember cockroaches. Lots of them. When we switched the light they came out from all the wholes and cracks. It was terrible and disgusting even though they didn’t bite. They smelled. It was not uncommon back then, but it somehow symbolically adds to it all.
. brothers died, visit to a morgue One memory haunts me to this day. I am visiting a morgue with my father to farewell my little brother. I recall the kindergarten and calling me out.
That is . changed over time
“In the death cell, a single note rings on and on and on”
(The Cure “All cats are grey”)